Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What I know for sure...

(A la Oprah)

1. Marriage is hard and very serious business. Living so intimately with someone else is a hard pill to swallow, love doesn't make it easier to go down, it just makes you take it and keep on taking it even though you despise popping pills. As Easy Sknaking Chef says, "it's our life journey together."

2. I am blessed. We are blessed. In so many little and very big ways. A package weighing nearly 1kg of saltfish, a very pretty new dress, three bags of Jamaican pimento (Allspice- so called because it has the flavours of four spices in one), my ivory neckalce, a latch hook and my shutterbug magazine arrived last night along with a bottle of Appleton Reserve, a jar of Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, and a few Jamaican scotch bonnet peppers (the hottest and most flavourful. The package was from my Ma and the other gifts were from the couple who brought them to us. Now I have a pretty new year's dress and saltfish to last for months! Luggage space is very precious on transatlantic flights home because space is limited, hefty overweight charges are applied and everyone wants to bring back their granny in their suitcase.

3. Things have been difficult for us, but always and without fail, we never get more than we can bear and God works right on time.

And a bit more general...

4. The friends you have are the friends you keep. New lasting friendships are hard to come by, especially in the transient world of expat life. People re-invent themselves and not always in a holistic way. Pretenses are many. Always trust your spirit when letting people into your life. Finally, when a person shows you who he/she really is, BELIEVE.

5. Embrace the newness and the dynamism of life's changes but hold on to what makes you, you. Change and growth are essential for a happy and peaceful life, but at least hold on to your DNA.

6. When you are hurt and angry, express your emotions and let them go. Bottling them in causes cancer. The same goes for rumination.

7. Music heals, inspires, stimulates, incites, relaxes and rejuvenates. Pick your choice. Choose your pick. You can use it as therapy, enhancement or weapon. Use wisely. Explore other types of music.

8. If the grass is greener on the other side of the lake, chances are they have a water bill bigger than your rent/mortgage. Everything in life comes at an expense. Do not allow others to influence what choices you make for you. The truth about keeping up with the Joneses that you can't. You can just decide to be happy and make do with what you have. This is where creativity comes in, and God-given talents are put to full use. Furthermore, you see all that love, warmth and passion in your home? The Jones would kill to get them. Heaters, expensive lighting and feng shui colour palettes cannot a home make.

9. Hang the devil but give him his due. Give credit where credit is due. It is never good to be the person who only highlights the negative in other persons. Everyone has good qualities. Don't be a Rascal Pascal who only sees the smudge on an otherwise beautiful lipstick that complements the wearer. Give praises as easily as with even more frequency than you do criticisms. Apply this rule to children too. Let them hear you vocalize their triumphs than only hear you go and on about their affinity for failure.

10. Be grateful. It could be 100 times worse and trust me, there are many who have it that way. Yes, it's fine to be upset about it, but never forget just how good you have it even when it seems to be bad. That doesn't mean living in an unhealthy situation, it means celebrating the fact that you have choices at your fingertips to actualize healthier existence. Sad though you may be about particular circumstances, woe is not me.

11. Life is beautiful. Life is good. Celebrate it. Enjoy it. Learn something from it everyday.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Dubai!

I never knew how I really felt about Christmas until now.

I thought I wasn't into Christmas and all that jazz. I couldn't be bothered to try to be in so many places at once. My parents were never married, and separated pretty early. My mother and sisters wanted to see me. My father and brothers wanted to see me. As I teenager I would alternate between the two homes choosing this one this year and the other the next. As a young adult, I made the mistake years ago to drive to both on Christmas Day. My siblings and parents have since expected me to be in two places at the same time. For years I had two Christmas dinners. It was the best of both worlds. My stepmother's sorrel and Christmas cake were divine and the ham and turkey were to die for. My three teenage brothers tried to outdo each other to eat the most. My mother's gungo rice and peas, pot roast, curry goat and other dishes were a force to be reckonned with. My sisters were thrilled to have big sis around.

Two Christmases ago, I got tired of driving to Red Hills and then 45mins to Spanish Town and decided to cop out with Imelda in Montego Bay. I had a ball! I think we both put on 10 pounds in that week. The ham, homemade bread and scones were heavenly. We didn't do any fancy Christmas dinner, but we talked and talked and talked and talked. That Christmas holiday was such a reprieve from what was otherwise just too much drama. In a word? Cathartic. But my siblings were hurt. Very. They believed that it wasn't Christmas without me and they didn't have a good time.

So last year, I was torn again... between the carefree and mad fun escape to Montego Bay and siblings who had not seen much of me since I moved away from Jamaica. It was a hard decision and I didn't make it until the very end. I didn't go to Montego Bay. It was nasty... torn between being a single independent with irreverence for all the disjointed family drama and being a big sister, much loved and hardly seen by siblings and parents. How silly was I!

This is my first Christmas away from Jamaica and hands down, the hardest.

I miss home. I miss the familiarity of family. I even miss having people fight earnestly to have my company. Irony abounds.

I had to invite myself to Christmas dinner this year. My husband was working and would not be able to spend the day with me and I dreaded the idea of spending it alone. He doesn't celebrate Christmas anyway(religious reasons)- it just happens to be his mother's birthday and that is the reason for the family spread on Dec 25. It's fine to be anti holiday drama but not to do it alone. That's just depressing. So I chose not to be depressed.

But how do I really feel at the end of this, my first Christmas away from my three homes? Sad.

It's not just the food- which was nice. It's not just the company- which was warm, inviting and pleasant. It was the fact that I, the one who had so many homes to go to, was a single stranger in a a room of people.

I am not a huge fan of Christmas. I think this whole post is ironic and somewhat contradictory. I hate the holidays. It reminds me that I am from a split family. I feel left out being the odd one (my siblings share parents, I share none with them). I know I have to explain that one.

Simply put, I am the child of a dichotomy. I was an only child for both parents until age 9 when my parents started a race to beat each other to their new families. My sister who follows me is 9 days older than my brother. I had a brother every two years after that and a sister sometime in between. My father has the boys. My mother has the girls. I am the only union between both families. My brothers have the same parents, my sisters have the same parents. I am the odd one. The one who was a mistake. Or so I thought for a very long time. I don't use the terms "Half-brother" or "Half-sister" and neither have they. But in reality, that is what we are. But we are blood. And as we say in Jamaica "Blood thicker than water."

And for the very first time in my life, water was all I had this Christmas Day. Not even sorrel.

My husband left work and went out for drinks.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

For my friend who is in the cloud cutting business...

Taken by Kari Alana of in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Photograher maintains copyright. All rights reserved 2009.

My dear friend, as we say in Jamaica, "What don't kill yuh, fatten yuh"

Translation: What does not kill you makes you stronger. But I prefer our version .. as I am sure you will appreciate as a Master Wordsmith.

Sweetie Pie, black on white only a jolt of reality... but you know what? The same coin that brings sorrow now once brought joy (Gibran). Sorrow and sadness are part of the continuum of this earthly existence. Embrace the sad feelings for such a time as this and dig deep trenches into your soul to let out the agony and pain. Why? So that when it is time to laugh, you would have already dug a deep hole into your soul so that the laughter will from then on come from a deeper place and find release. (Gibran-so you can weep all of your tears and laugh all of your laughter).

Your honesty and openess are stamps of your authenticity.

You phenomenal woman, you will rise.

Oozing love into the universe... just for you.

I posted this as a comment but wasnt sure you would see it so I re-posted it here.

Final step completed for residency visa

We are there. Finally. I am expecting my passport to be returned with my 3year stamp anytime soon.

Eeasy Skanking Chef came with me (as he did all stages) on Monday to submit all the documents for that leg.

So officially, I have not only taken his last name, but all three as outlined on my visa. So now I have six names: my three plus his. Isn't that grand? He calls me all six sometimes to poke fun at me.

This photog's dream

I dream of my photos framed and hung on walls in a museum with art critics and regular people like me being so inspired that they reach for their purses and wallets to buy into my limited edition prints.

I dream of traveling exhibitions worldwide, showcasing the best of what my father has handed down to me... photography, smarts, and the drive to make it happen via entrepreneurship.

I dream of cookbooks with ESC, merging our talents and interests that serve as bonding rituals for us and transfers to other people when they buy them and cook with them.

I dream of a TV show... taking my producer cap off the shelf and using my marketing skills to get sponsors.

I dream of being my own master, using my time and talent to my financial gain without the overseer's whip looming over my back.

You know the funny thing?

I dont really feel like I am dreaming at all... I am merely envisioning what is to and will come.

Busy body me

Sharjah went well. We didn't get up to the specific competition we went for (we never found the place until 6 hours later when we had long given up and decided to just turn the day into a discover and shoot Sharjah day). Such is the nature of directions in the UAE.... damned if you actually get there. Moral of the story... chances are you will fail to be where you need to be at the time you need to be there if you dont have an idea of where that place is already.

Besides that, I have been making myself pretty busy.

I have single-handedly updated my professional website and even forwarded my alternate URL to point to the same site. If you recall, I purchased two URLs with different versions of my name to protect my online identity, since there were quite a few people popping up with my name in recent years. Have a look at the new design and the updated pages and let me know what you think. Yes it's girlie... but what am I if not a girlie girl who isn't afraid to lug heavy equipment on a shoot wearing bright red lipstick? I have added a blog to that site (for professional use) but this will remain my core blog.

Now that I have updated my website and included packages for weddings, its time to go drop off my business card to the church office so that my name can be added to the list. One advantage of using my first two names only? Alphabetical order finally smiles in my favour :)

Did I tell you I bought ESC a URL for his birthday? Yes I did. What wife does that? This one. I am also working on his website, which for now will be a custom domain blog (to keep web-hosting costs down low or nil). I am leaning towards using Blogger as opposed to Wordpress because the former is free and the latter charges roughly $10bucks per annum. I know that isn't awfully expensive, but since we are going to start a third blog together for commercial purposes, I would rather spend where income is expected than where it is just a tool for promotion and expression. Ya know what I mean? Yes, the older I get, the more frugal I become like my granny. Truth be told, I much prefer the Wordpress templates than those of Blogger.

I am really excited about the prospects though.

Working on ESC's site has provided a wealth of info via research. I now know that I am just going to purchase the URL directly from the blog providers instead of goind via GoDaddy and then going through DNS transfers and renaming CNAMES etc.

Having a CARIMAC degree has certainly helped me out... finally my university education is paying off! I have two degrees in communication, I might as well use them to my advantage. I was a lot more adventurous when I was younger, working on sites like Kuyaba when I was still in undergrad. And the pay was gooood! I was even offered a job to do a website for my wedding photog friend. I think he is also better off with a blog with his own URL for content management purposes. I turned down another for a business because I just do not play with html that much and I dont have the software or the inclination. Too many spices can spoil a broth- its like being a one man TV station and trying to do all the jobs yourself...impossible.

Friday, December 18, 2009

ESC is home. Sleeping. Pour soul. Tired.

I have had 24 hrs of sheer domestic bliss. I wanted the place to be a haven or rest for us both this weekend. Gave him a candle lit peppermint bath this morning when he came home from work at 2:30. Pour soul was so exhausted that he fell asleep in the bath.

He cooked me breakfast this morning, and it was so much that we are having it for dinner.

We go on the photo trek tomorrow to Sharjah. Ooops forgot about that when I put my wet locks on rollers. Hope my hair dries by morning. Yes it's 14 hrs away before we leave home but locks can take very long to dry... esp now when the temp is very cool.

We have a movie date tomorrow with a chef colleague of his who he looks up to.

I am going to bake a box cake tomorrow and douse it with wine. Rum would have been preferred but I am afraid we have no such thing in our pantry. There is a bottle of flat wine that we have been nursing that hopefully should do the trick. I promise to try it on one one slice first instead of spoiling the whole thing.

I am shooting again.

Need to go through my backlog of photos and pick some gallery type photos for exhibition and printing. In addition to doing holiday portraits, that may be the quickest way to earn from my significant investment. The truth about photography is that the real artistic element is not grasped until printed and hung. It has to be in a frame to be regarded as collectible art. Otherwise, it's just another beautiful shot. I think my next assignments will be park and gallery hunting. The parks for reconnaissance for location shoots and galleries to see who may be interested in displaying my art. What have I got to lose? Not a darn thing!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Out of the house today

Loves, I am taking my camera with me to Al Karama and Al Satwa to test out a second hand lens I am thinking of purchasing. It is a telephoto zoom, though not as fast as I am now used to (having only the best bro lenses in my camera case till now). But I do need a telephoto zoom for weddings so it would be fantastic if this works out for me.

The real lens I have been dying to get over the past year and that I wish I had just closed my eyes and bought is a great fast pro piece of glass for food, portrait and macro photography. It costs US900. Out of my league right now, but I promise you this much, I will get it before summer next year. Hmmmn. I think I just found my reason to settle with this current telephoto and flash that I am getting now. Those are critical for a wedding photog kit but I dont have to splurge on the best of those just yet but that dream lens is really what is going to make me money and if I buy a cheaper telephoto and a cheaper lens, I will be further on my way to getting what I really want!

Oh man, NOW I am excited!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Motivate your damn self (note to self)

Taken by Kari Alana of in May Pen, Jamaica. Photograher maintains copyright. All rights reserved 2009.

FB Friend: What u been up to? Apart from being married....

Sheer Almshouse: Transitioning, re-positioning, re-inventing and adapting.

And aint that the truth in a nutshell!

It's been three months since I came to Dubai, and two months yesterday since I got married and those verbs (note present continuous tense used) have been defining my existence.

I am working on my business plan. Running into some kinks. Realising that the market I thought I had would not have access to a major part of the project... so I am back to Engineering 101. I cant say that this is such a bad thing though. I have identified the problems early, which is part of the processes of due diligence and research- and critical- when attempting anything entrepreneurial.

The learning curve spikes hourly. I am so hungry to really get to know how this place works and work with it. I am trying not to assert my own assumptions and to understand before I seek to be understood.

I think there is a market for my projects 1. a company and 2. another blog but I just have to make certain that I dot my I's and cross my T's.

It is also a major challenge that my start-up capital has been drained so I really have to be very detailed about how I will be able to capitalize these entities and project that rate at which they will grow.

I think I need to start building a time table- a schedule to guide execution since I really do have a lot of good projects, but all of which require intensive use of my hands that already hurt from using a laptop full time. Yes I should be using a desktop for somebody who is at the computer for such long hours, but that is an expense that will have to be delayed. Hmmn maybe I could think of an ergonomic keyboard in the interim?

It may be a blessing that I am not privy to huge capital injections... at least now I will have to force myself to build from ground up and make smart investments that yield sustainable ROI. This time around, I don't have a huge client up front providing me money for the startup costs or a job to help me pay for third parties. I can't afford a lawyer just yet and I can't afford a graphic designer. I can't even afford the regulated start-up fees.

I am not necessarily getting much done but I have been making more and more contacts and slowly seeing how the vision I had for my transition could actually work. It is a slow and tedious process and not always yielding of spectacular results, but if I know anything, it is that the small victories should be celebrated.

I go on a photo quest this weekend with new Brit photog friend and that will be good for both of us.

I think I need to draft a marketing communication plan for myself and use it as a guide to rollout the different things I want to do.

ESC has been uber supportive of me and allows me the luxury of being a kept woman while I sort myself out.

Right now... my time is my greatest resource. I would be smart to use it wisely.

UNRELATED: We completed stage 4 of the visa process. We are in the clear, so now it's on to the 3year renewable residency stamp. (I currently have a temp 2 month paper visa).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This morning's juice

1 granny smith apple
1 kiwi
1 sweet/bell pepper
string beans
1 carrot

ESC was happy... says the juices are tasting better (well duh, I have been adding sweet carrots and fruits for natural sweetners and less ginger (unless I hear him sniffling).


Romaine Lettuce
Beet Root
granny smith apple

Comment format reinstated

I got one too many complaints, so I just changed back the comment format to the pop up page. Thanks for the comments, cause I was beginning to wonder if no one was reading me anymore because your comments are few and far between these days.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Windies Posse Boat Party MC...

I told you I was going to bring out my flaming bird of paradise persona!!!

Add Professional MC to the list of services offered!

Parang in Dubai

Yesterday, I went to visit a lovely and vivacious Trini lady, her hobbyist photog Brit hubby and their daughter whofa eyes and expression are a photog's dream (on the hook up of mi cousin in Cayman). One word? Inspiration!

Missis, all though Miss Trini Parang said dinner was not a fuss, I had my fill of Trini Pelau, fried plaintains, tossed salad with raisins and corn pie and vino a plenty!

I had a really fantabulous time! Great conversation and all.... and you know what... it turns out that they too were on the Island Behind God's Back- though on the more popular one of the chain and not as much as twice removed from God's back as I was.

So now ESC and I have a lunch date next week with them and I have found an artical sistren who is loads of fun and a well-matched partner who fancies Dutty Stinking Shabba (their words:) ). He has done some really amazing work and actually has printed and framed a lot of them. She has a background in F& B herself and so she understands the dynamics of the demands and the kind of passion ESC has for his craft. We have spoken of photo trips... I am so excited!

I will have you know that yours truly took the trip from one end of Dubai to the next to their house alone! Yup! Talk about a learning curve! For three months, I only took cabs from the supermarket in my neighbood, and the first time I venture out on my own, I go across the entire length of Dubai from the first train stop till the last! Trust me, there is no comparison in terms of costs because a cab would have cost about AED75 and the train and 2 bus combo cost me like AED7.

So yes, I am coming out of my little shell. This reminds me of Imelda's little saying..."The shell has to break before the bird can fly."

Friday, December 11, 2009

When You Go Farin, Pack Yuh Granny into Yuh Suitcase

Pack it like you loading truck!!

For my non-Caribbean readers, just take your time and read aloud... usually, the word is as it sounds... :)

I was feeling a lickle homesick... and mi did put up a lickle piece of saltfish for such a time as this. So what me do? Mi grab the dutchie, hot up some oil, rub up some flour, grab nedda pot, bwile di saltfish, cut up some onion, garlic, skellion, tomatis, and cook dem up, pick up the saltfish and dash it in, stur it up, and add some nice fresh crunchy cabbage, knead mi dough, roll mi dumpling, put dem inna di hat ile, and tun dem when dem golden and cripsy pon si outside, and done cook, dish out the food.... and wait.

"MMMMMMMMMMMNNNN," hubby start moan. Me start moan likkle bit after.

All who did feel like dem too nice to with travel with saltfish and dutchpot (me) dash way dem dere false pride as soon as you realise say some tings just dont cook the same way into farin pot. And yes Dutch Ovens may be bought a farin, but I swear, the food taste sweeter if is a hand me down dutchie from a family member who asways cook up some nice soul food and mek yuh hide and lick yuh finger.

The other night me mek some sorrel tea and when Hubby taste it, him say all this want is likkle rum fi be real sorrel. That's right.. mi come with pimento too!

Missis, you can tek di Jamaican out of Jamaica but you cyaan tek di Jamaican outa she.

Miss Modda from Stewarton Mocho, (mi maternal granny) used to make mi fry dumpling and cabbage and saltfish fi breakfast ... and this morning... I went right back to the 6 year old girl whose eyes get wide with glee when she see seh grandma cooking just for me!!!! All mi need now is the fresh peppermint tea from di bush outside the kitchen and the nice sweet Mocho air. Wha go done? Rain a fall inna Dubai!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another blog?

I have been talking to ESC about creating a joint blog of a commercial nature to showcase the best of our talents and how well they compliment. Still working on the idea. I am stuck with finding a name because all the good ones seem to be taken.

I am going to actually write a business plan for it to get it off the ground and take it from there.

The only cost to us will be that of the URL. The aim is to start simple with overheads as low as possible until we can generate income.

Yes, I have to find ways to keep busy and to make my own contribution. If this thing takes off, I will be flexible enough to spend limited time with my hubby and also keep my brain active. It may even put us in a better position to earn from our core talents.

As the marketing communication guru, I know that it's all in a name.... and that my friends... is the hardest piece of the puzzle to fit.

Back in business

The party went very well. We got very good reviews. Still waiting on the pics to post.

ESC and I had a much cherished two days together- though both evenings were spent dealing with government offices for the next step of my visa application. Yes... it took two days and about 5 hours altogether. After a 10 -day Eid holiday, apparently there was a huge backlog. But can I tell you, in many ways it pays to be a woman in a Muslim country- this was one of them. I would not have gotten through that night otherwise. Women have their own lines and do not have to converge with men. It's the same thing in the bus and the train, though when I travel with ESC I waive those rights to sit with him.

We took the bus and train a lot over those two days... so now I know how to get to Al Satwa. I now know exactly how to take the bus and train (a prepaid card must be purchased). We got two cards that are renewable for long term traveling.

I have to go back to Al Satwa today to return an electrical converter that busted the first time ESC connected it. I also have to go to Al Karama to visit my friend and wedding photog to help him sort through some techy issues. He has been a Godsend to us. He even offered to sell me some of his equipment on installment so that I can get bigger jobs.

I also got my business cards printed (and essentially these are name cards)... but with details of my services. So now, I am actively spreading the word that I am back in business. I have devised a Holiday Portrait Session for Individuals and Families at a very good price and have been pushing that. I have one customer already set to go. She is the same person who paid em to groom her locks.

I must admit that the holiday package came about as a result of the same boat party. Having had to give away a gift certificate for a Holiday Portrait Session, I realised it would be a good and timely idea to push the package to earn some pocket change.

I will also give a copy of my card to the church office tomorrow so that my name can be added to the list of photographers. The way Dubai works is that the church is the most important stop for Christian weddings and also most reliable so all wedding inquiries usually go through there first. There are only two churches that offer Christian Weddings in Dubai, so it is exceptional positioning to be on that list.

I am in the process of coming up with wedding packages that suit different pockets. My advantage is that I have my wedding photog friend as my ally to help me in whatever way possible and we have also agreed to do big jobs together.

I need to resume shooting now that I have sorted through my computer issues. I think I will walk with my camera today.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sheer Almshouse to MC Caribbean party in Dubai

I managed to walk right into this event on account of ESC who took me to one of the planning committee meetings on my very second day here. He was on the team as the Culinary Advisor. The team leader volunteered me to MC. It was set. So the party is this Friday. Good stuff. Here I was talking about my need to volunteer and integrate not remembering that I had done so from my second day here!

But it takes a while for me to work myself up into character for these things. My on-stage and on-air personalities are alter egos that are channelled for such a time as this. I am even going to be wearing a carnival head piece (my bright idea).

I have met some really wonderful women as a result of this venture and I think the scope is wide for further collaboration.

I offered my photographic services in the form of a portrait session and it has been decided that it will be the second prize for the charity raffle. I even got some promotion on the flyer that has beed distributed to the impressive mailing list of Caribbean nationals (and children of nationals) resident here across the UAE.

Give thanks. I never knew that all this would have happen just by not objecting to be named MC and sitting on the committee.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The song that never ends... cabbage juice is a serious thing

It seems like I am just making the weirdest decisions when it comes to the timing and combinations of things I ingest.

I juiced cabbage for ulcers and digestive regulation. I got gas. Mad gas. Stomach-cramping gas that kept me in the bathroom for yet another night in a row.

Took me over an hour to finally fall asleep when I got into bed at 4am- if you want to call that slumber. Woke up with pains.

I am certainly not hard-up but I feel like a combination the worst monster cramps ever and a badly shaken up bottle of coke with the cap still on.

I woke up to poor ESC rubbing my tummy in circles. Don't know if I was moaning in my sleep or what.

Yes, I am drinking ginger tea.

I wish I had access to DICA, which is the best OTC solution for trapped gas available in Jamaica. I should know. My cousins will tell you that I am periodically complaining of one digestive problem or another. I even secretly suspect that my body doesn't handle spices as well as my taste buds. But "Gas Queen" is not a title that sits well with me.

Funny enough, out of curiosity, I decided to research about the relationship between my discomfort and the cabbage juice... the journalist in me needs proof. Interesting discovery on

Cabbage is a highly nutritional vegetable that can be put through your juicer to achieve juice with great healing powers. Juicing cabbage has a number of health benefits that have been documented over many years. Green cabbage contains a number of minerals and vitamins including potassium, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and 'vitamin U'.

To juice cabbage simply cut a segment out of the cabbage head and chop it into blocks small enough to fit down the juicer’s feeding chute.

When juicing cabbage you should not drink more than about 4oz of cabbage juice at a time and it is best mixed with other juices such as carrot / apple juice. The flavour combination of carrot and cabbage is well tested, as cabbage and carrot are the base ingredients of many varieties of coleslaws. Coleslaws are highly popular dishes that regularly appear in a raw food diet.

If you consume too much cabbage juice in one go then you may experience a feeling of gas and slight cramps in the intestine due to the sulphur in the cabbage juice reacting with bacteria that exist in the intestines.

Cabbage juice has been used to treat a number of health conditions including colitis, constipation, hair loss, skin problems but it is probably most well known for its ability to heal ulcers. It is believed that the glutamine content of cabbage is the main driving force behind the use of cabbage juice to heal ulcers.

Pity the said journalist in me didn't do her research before she got winded.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cabbage juice, anti-cold juice and remedies

ESC woke up stuffy. I heard a slight sniffle last night and gave him 1000mg of Vit C and a mangerine but that didn't seem to do the trick.

So what was this concoction?

ANTI-COLD JUICE A LA Sheer Almshouse:

1. Romaine Lettuce
2. A nice big Bell Pepper (Vit C)
3. Plenty Ginger (autoimmune, respiratory boosting prosperties)
4. Lemon juice (Vit C)
5. Honey (for the antibiotic properties)

taken with

One nice big cloved of garlic finely chopped (antibiotic properties).

I am trying to nip whatever it is in the bud. I know he is exhausted having worked without weekends for 4 weeks straight but I have to try and boost his immune system. He starts a new menu on Thurs and has to work this weekend again and I think that his poor body has just had enough. I know he will go unil he crashes because this is not the time for a sick day... but I can't say I didnt see it coming. How can anyone work such long hours 7 days a week for so long and not have the ground shift under their feet? Anyway, I am doing what I can do to help, to nourish and support.

He as also strict instructions to consume ginger, mint and lemon tea and more garlic during the day.

In a bid to regulate my own body, I made myself some cabbage juice this morning.

It's for my stomach, to quiet and cure any sort of ulcer that could be developing and also for improved daily efficiency in eliminating toxic build-up. It was pretty sweet, surprisingly and of course I added ginger.

If there is one thing I couldn't live without these days, it's ginger. What's yours?

Prunes and raisins were not created equal

So last night while chatting to Imelda on Skype, my doorbell rings at 11:30. I was not expecting anyone. ESC was not due home for another hour and I had just almost perfected my all natural moisturizing hair spray and I went to town. My hair was wrapped in a plastic bag covered with my silk scarf and I was parading in undergarments. I looked through the peephole. It was my dearly beloved husband!

Home early- a rare surprise. Slow day. Wanting to spend some QT with his wife. He went to the shower and Imelda and I chatted on. We haven't been having our regular conversations and were getting up to speed. GrannyPeg heard the news of Dubai's debt payment default and was worried about her granddaughter over here in foreign Arabia. The news had reached Jamaica.

The conversation ended prematurely- a regular thing with internet chats over my limited broadband speed. I took the cheapest package. Frugal is my middle name. It rhymes with Practical.

So ESC comes out of his shower, intending to fix his flat bicycle tyre and seduce his wife to an early sign off.

Then the prunes started talking.

I was not comfortable with the way my body was feeling and so I picked up a few prunes on my supermarket run last night. They were really tasty. I had them all. Eleven prunes. I dont eat prunes normally because I never really cared for them. But I wanted to feel like my old efficient self again and they really did taste good this time. Maybe its because they didn't have to travel so far and so long to get to me in the west.. they were much tastier here, having come from the region.

Then the prunes started to sing.

ESC fixed his bike, warmed up some oxtail, unpacked the groceries and waited for me to join him.

The prunes started to dance. One piece of drum knocking and chanting and carrying on.

There endeth the reading of this scripture. ESC was forced to go to bed without me while I was locked up in the bathroom reading "The Poisonwood Bible" as my body found renewed efficiency.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Refocusing and finding centre...yet again

It has come to that again... the point when paradigms shift and I am forced to evaluate where I am, how I got here, where I want to go and what route will take me there.

It's bigger than just being a newlywedded expat wife still trying to come to grips with a whole mass of change in a very short period. Or maybe that is all there is. Who knows? Whatever it is, it is what it is. A crossroad. A crossword. A puzzle.

I find myself torn among a few things within
-The struggle to find ways to make each day count when little is being achieved on the Over Achiever Scale of 1 to Infinite

-The fact that I have successfully used up all the savings that were to last me for a six month period within two months of my arrival

-The grim reality of just how daunting the life of being a chef's wife when you are sitting at home waiting for 15-18hrs for him to come home so that you can try to quickly run through all the things you wanted to talk about and get him in bed within an hour or two so that he can sleep for a few hours and begin a new day just like the day before and work that way without days off for one month straight or more during peak seasons which last for months at a time. A run-on for a long wait.

-Feeling so desperate to redefine an individual identity without the channels usually within reach

-Applying for jobs from here to Cairo, just to find something to do that pays, even though deep down, I am not sure that just having a job that pays will give me the meaning and satisfaction that I truly crave. I am aware that desperation forces saints into prostitution and though I am no judge, I am pretty sure that my limited experiences in this life have taught me that not all jobs are for me. Re-enter the square peg round hole debate.

-Trying to find meaning to my existence- a higher calling more fulfilling than paid labour- the work of volunteerism- realising though it costs more than time to volunteer.

But I need to. I need to be a part of something bigger than myself. To find a little corner in the host of problems rife in the world and sit with my sewing needle and start to sew my contribution to the quilt. Somehow, I feel that once I make that inner connection to my heart's work, I will find the very same channels not only to express my contribution to mankind, but to receive the bounty of fulfilment and the very means of survival that God intended.

The whole point in me packing up my life and moving across the atlantic was to find an opportunity to do things differently in a way that brings sustainable joy as opposed to fleeting happiness. I must admit though that it is hard to reconcile that with having little means and finding myself in a subset of aloneness in a much larger pond. But larger ponds provide more square footage to grow beyond anything that a Small Island Mentality could offer.

Am I creating for myself my own version of Small Mindedness or am I rising to the occasion to be a part of something bigger than myself?

I have a very supportive, though absent husband, who is my champion supporter.

I have already sent out more job applications in the past few months than the total numbers in my entire life. So now, I am sending out a new call to the universe.

I am calling for work that brings me joy, that makes a difference in a life other than my own, that allows me to manifest my Gibran philosophy that "work is love made visible." I know that the money will come. I don't know how, but I know that it will. I am sending out the call to attract good people, solid people who I can be a blessing to and who can be a blessing to me. I am sending out the call for a GPS mapping of how to get to that place where I ought to go. I am sending out the call to be healthy, mentally, physically and spiritually and attract circumstances and encounters that are on the same plane.

I am not sure what I will do. I am not sure where this train network leads. I just know that I will get off at all the right stops.

My life, though small shall be meaningful, present, and fully accounted for.

Expat Spouses Can Resume Their Careers Once Abroad

I stumbled upon this site and have re-posted this article as inspiration to myself and others. Of all the expat portals out there, this is my new favourite. Meaningful, grounded sister love to enlighten, entertain and soothe with the appointed salve.

Expat Spouses Can Resume Their Careers Once Abroad

By Mary Kissel
Sandy Johnson was an unlikely expatriate when she moved to Singapore with her husband in the 1980s. With little prior experience abroad -- save an occasional trip to Mexico and a whirlwind tour of Europe as a teenager -- the Texas City, Texas, native found herself in a foreign country without a work permit or social network. What's more, her husband's oil-field services company, like many others, didn't provide expatriate spouses with job-hunting assistance.

Moving abroad can be tough on expatriate employees, but often it's just as hard -- if not harder -- on accompanying spouses or partners, who may have given up their careers to go overseas.

Undeterred, Ms. Johnson sought out volunteer opportunities. Soon, she was managing Singapore's American Women's Association, a not-for-profit with more than 1,000 members. Through her new professional connections, she landed a job as a marketing manager with International SOS, a Singapore and London-based medical and emergency assistance company, and embarked on a 20-year career with the organization. "The opportunity presented itself to me because I had done the networking," says Ms. Johnson, now a senior executive with International SOS in Philadelphia.

Unlike couples moving within the U.S., "trailing" expatriate spouses may not be able to secure necessary permits to work in their new country or know how to develop a social network to create such opportunities. What's more, an expat spouse's unhappiness can impinge upon his or her partner's professional success.

Unraveling Assignments

Statistics tell a disheartening story about trailing expat spouses. In a recent study co-authored by Willamette University and Cendant Mobility, almost 60% of the 548 surveyed "globally mobile" employees complained that lack of career opportunities for spouses and partners diminished their overall quality of life. And many relocation consultants say anecdotally that about half of all failed assignments are due to family problems.

Companies have been slow to address this issue. Less than half of nearly 150 multinational companies' human-resources departments profiled in Cendant's 2004 Policy and Practices study "typically" provide spousal assistance. Such assistance may range from a lump-sum payment to help with job hunting to work permits or career counseling, although few companies offer all these benefits.

"What's ironic is that [spousal assistance] is typically offered to high-level executives, but very often, the people who most need the spouse assistance aren't the high-level executives -- it's the low-level employees who will more frequently have dual-career families," says Lisa Johnson, Cendant's director of consulting services. Adds Rick Schwartz, president and chief executive officer of GMAC Relocation Services: "This is a really tough issue. We don't see clients doing a lot of real substantive work in this area, not because they don't want to, but because it's so complicated."

Involve Your Partner

With companies providing so little help, prospective expatriates should first ensure that their spouses understand what moving abroad means for their careers and lifestyle, says Susan Ginsberg, head of global business development for Ricklin-Echikson Associates (REA), a Milburn, N.J.-based firm that specializes in career assistance for expatriate partners and spouses. Don't surprise your spouse and say, "By the way, we're going to Japan," Ms. Ginsberg says wryly. "Request and require that the accompanying partner is included in the decision-making process."

Before you leave, devise a plan for how you'll introduce your potentially unemployed partner to new work colleagues or friends abroad. Partners used to working may feel uncomfortable to be introduced now as a "housewife" or "house husband."

Start Small, Think Big

For trailing spouses who want to remain employed, finding a job abroad may be challenging, but it isn't impossible. Some companies provide job-search assistance to partners or outsource this task to firms such as REA. Their assistance may include a range of services -- offering counseling on how to secure a work permit or get involved in the community, information on upcoming business conferences, or lists of classes to augment job skills.

But even if you're totally on your own, experienced expats say networking and imagination are the keys to success. "Be willing to take a nonpaying, skill-base-stretching opportunity, and one thing leads to another," says Ms. Johnson.

When Charlene "Cha Cha" Williams moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1996 with her husband, James, she found it difficult to get a work permit. Rather than wrestle with government bureaucracy, Ms. Williams took language classes, volunteered at the local zoo and joined the local women's association. On a group outing to a mountain resort north of Jakarta, she spotted an unusual looking basket in a hotel gift shop. Curious, she bought it, and at home with the help of the family's gardener, "dismantled it and re-mantled it and started producing them."

Soon, Ms. Williams was leading a small not-for-profit that produced more than 1,000 baskets a year, selling them to expatriates, and even exporting a few to Australia. The venture tripled her local Indonesian workers' incomes. Ms. Williams went on to found a spa in Jakarta with her sister (also an expat), who helped her get a work permit. "I think you can make whatever you want to out your expatriate life," Ms. Williams says.

Where to Go for Help

If you're going abroad, always first explore benefits offered by your partner's company. If no assistance is provided, consider taking these steps to facilitate finding a job, meaningful work or study abroad:

A Few Tips:

If you're going abroad, always first explore benefits offered by your partner's company. If no assistance is provided, consider taking these steps to facilitate finding a job, meaningful work or study abroad:

Before you leave, research the location. Find out if it's possible to get a work permit. If so, ask your partner's company if it can help you arrange the paperwork.

Check out such Web sites as or, which have chat rooms or billboards with job listings.

Contact the local U.S. [seemingly veered towards US citizen but insert you own here or another that may have diplomatic ties with your country] embassy immediately upon arrival. Embassy staff often can help expats integrate into the local community.

Once you're there, get involved in local organizations, community groups, faith-based communities, or schools. Don't be fooled by names -- the British Women's Association, for example, often accepts non-British members.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Industrious Expat Wife

I applied for a record 44 jobs today. Yep...not 4 but 44. I filled out two particularly tedious forms which I had to do at intervals. The jobs were in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Oman, Kuwait, Riyadh, Jeddah, Cairo, and Beirut. I just needed to feel proactive. Just needed to feel like I wasn't just let a day pass by.

I am limiting my blogging due to my painful carpal tunnel which is now affecting both hands. They need rest. I cannot even make tea without pain.

I am still in good spirits. I feel particularly good about one entry level marketing job for which I am over-qualified so I hope to get. Going in at a lower level isn't such a bad idea when you are in a totally new market. Plus I will just apply my sheer fabulousness and wow them over!

The job is within Easy Skanking Chef's group (though a totally different division). It would be interesting to work in the same company- that would mean I could use the company transportation to get to and from work and have time to save up to buy a car cash.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Natural haircare for dreadlocks...The result

I need to update you. I have gotten a request from a church sister to do her locks. She wants to pay me. I used to get those requests all the time but have never been in this situation that I am in now (bored out of my skull during the days and in need of my own cash) so... I am going to take up her offer. Not sure what to charge though.

Eventually, I think I will actually start making and bottling my own products for use here as I build my clientele.

My hands (both now) are hurting badly due to overuse so I really have been forced to lay off the computer. Plus I will need to conserve to tackle her locks on Sun, which are at this stage, looking very dry and in need of some real know how.

Can I tell you a secret? From high school I wanted to do cosmetology. Can I tell you another secret? I should have. I guess it's never too late! Maybe I will put out word that I can do hair, makeup and photography for special occasions at church.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Full your belly before you leave your yard

I can't tell how many times that was forced upon me while I was growing up.

Going to a party?
Full your belly before you leave your yard

Going to a wedding?
Full your belly before you leave your yard

Going to someone's home for dinner?
Full your belly before you leave your yard

The reasons were simple:
1. It's cheaper to feed yourself from your kitchen than to buy food on the road.
2. You may be unfortunate to have the food run out on you even at catered events
3. The food may be awful beyond measure and you may only have a few bites out of politeness and if you never "Full your belly before you leave your yard" gas and belly pains going to kill you!

So, I get invited out the mall, so I going to have to run because a need to full mi belly before mi leave mi yard.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

All Natural hair and skin care

I have maintained that the good old basics are really just better... cheaper in the long run, except for the initial requirement of a lot of your precious time.

As you know my by now, though I am really a novice, I am inspired by what little I know of Ayurveda and the balancing of the doshas and chakras. Hence, whatever physical ailment is just a manifestation of things gone wrong on the inside. Mind and Spirit manifest in Body.

So, since yesterday, I have really kicked up my regimen. I pretty much went on a juice fast yesterday. It was good. I can feel my body cleansing itself. I walked yesterday and today and I will try to walk a little everyday. I actually feel my muscles working even though the pace is not fast, because a long walk is actually best for burning fat.

I have also decided to do away with shampoos and conditioners with sulfates and silicones. I am fast becoming the all natural rasta woman who uses bicarbonate of soda for deodorant (eeew). So why the drama with all natural hair care? Well for starters ,I cannot find good stuff for my hair here. At least not in the supermarket and I am not yet in a position to venture into a swanky salon in the hopes of getting a decent bottle of shampoo for 7x the cost elsewhere. The answer I guess is: necessity is the mother of invention. My hair needs help. Fast. And all these products promising to make Rapunzels of Caucasian hair are doing nothing for my Afro kink dreadlocked self.

So here's the experimental treatment:

Vinegar wash (vinegar diluted with warm water). I am using Cane Vinegar (from the pantry) because I am used to cane in the Caribbean as opposed to Apple Cider in colder climes.

This is the fun part. First cold pressed EVO (from the pantry) and egg (from the fridge). I have whisked them together to make an emulsification...This will be used as a deep conditioner and I will rinse as thoroughly as possible. Rinsing temperature should be cold (for obvious reasons).

I will tell you how it went.

BTW... the carrot soup was just barely edible. Too strong a carrot flavour. Not enough chicken stock. Made baked chicken and rice for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beta Carotene in mi spleen

So save for one banana and a mango, I have had three cups of freshly pressed (at each sitting) carrot juice today. I am now making a soup with the pulp because I just think its a sine to waste pure pulp. All that in in there is carrot and ginger anyway.

Waste Not Want Not Carrot Soup:
Carrot Pulp from Juice extractor
Chicken Stock
Salt to taste
And the awareness that ESC would have found a way to make it better (and without all that trash) but this is not ESC and the trash is fibre that serves an entirely different and important purpose!

I did get around to that nap and it was so peaceful... no scary dreams whatsoever.

Looking forward to taking that walk everyday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A new frienie fren fren for Sheer Almshouse!

Remember that lady I told you about yesterday? I think she could be what I have been hoping for!

My age (I usually prefer older friends but hey)... married this year... most time housewife/part time consultant... former career woman who earned the bigger salary...fighting depression about the immense changes...makes her own juices...goes walking in the mornings to lift her spirits...has lots of time... a sense of adventure...first generation caribbean (and from an island that is just friendly generally... and the piece de resistance..... she lives in my neighbourhood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I woke up feeling all sorry for myself this morning and ESC hugged me and kissed me and reassured me of his support and demanded that I take up Frenie Fren Fren's offer to go walking and not head immediately back to bed as I had become custom to do. I grunted, moaned, groaned and prayed she wouldn't call. I turned off my cell phone. He turned it back on. He said he would call her himself if he had to. Oooohh so man sexy... I should have jumped him and made him late for work!

Clearly I am in better spirits now, and that is solely contributed to the fact that we went walking aorund the neighbourhood for all of 90 mins and I even managed to go to a brand new grocer's that she introduced me to and get carrots at a rate of about 1/3 of my usual price. Clearly I got many. I needed to anyway... been having stomach issues that have been disturbing my sleep. And if you know me, you know that when my sleep is disturbed, nothing can be more depressing... Hmmm... I need to stick a pin there to explore at a later date.

Anyway... I am just happy to feel like misself again..

Dubai weather at this time of the year is absolutely fantastic!!!

TwentySomething Housewife Rant

OK... right this minute, I am tired of my walls. I am tired of my suburb, and I just want a challenge that is not domestic. ESC's No-day-off-for-two-straight-weeks status is driving me up the wall because he was my most reliable and loved distraction! Now, we can't talk for long or do anything together and I am just being a grump because grumpy days were meant to be had by one and all and this is one of mine and it's my day so I can be grumpy if i want to and I certainly want to because I am just feeling that way.

But seriously, I need to get a job -fast. Screw the whole "I will stay home and do what I want when I want" bit... I need to be stimulated by work, people, conversation, sights and fast before I just pack my bags and go to the airport and beg a free ticket outta here. No job means no disposable income... no disposable income means very limited opportunities to be titillated... lack of titillation incites boredom... boredom begets frustration... you get the point.

The truth is that I do like the sight of my name on a pay cheque- been getting my own since I was a 16 yo TV presenter.

Somehow, the less you have to do, the less gets done! So no, I am not working on the thesis, or the book or the photo exhibition, nor getting art photo sales and commissioned jobs in any targeted way that will produce fruitful results. I am just attacking haphazardly as the spirit moves. And dont forget one of the basic rules of entrepreneurship: you need money to make money. And even though I could just recline fully into my "Housewife" status, "you also need money to spend money." I don't want to lyme if I have to be engaging my brain as an Xcel Spreadsheet to process whether or not I can meet so and so for lunch at that particular restaurant or get to that particular gallery across town via taxi or how many gourmet coffees I can have per month. This "Housewife" thing was truly meant for the rich- an opportunity to be what you where you want to be at all times and to be available at the beck and call of husband and children. That means that domestics are certainly not on the list and a household budget is a loosely defined benchmark that is meant to be attained and broken. After all, how could anyone pass on that USD$5,000 hair accessory?

It also means that one could attend all the pottery classes, yoga classes, dance classes, language classes, personal development classes, and daily Ayurvedic spa sessions that one can manage. Of course, getting around wouldn't be a hassle because of course there's a car parked in the garage solely for your amusement. And for those times when you want to feel like your life is bigger than you... there are those charities that you chair for a better world.

Soooo.. I am fiercely, aggressively, madly looking for a job, sending my resume to all who may know someone who knows someone. ESC is sending his out to head hunters soon too. The trouble is that this will be the hardest shift. He has been here for 4 years and I have only just arrived. We will better off trying to relocate as a team of two from now on... looking simultaneously for work that suits us both.

I have really perfected the introverted elements of my personality that will stay home and locked inside unless forced otherwise. It suits me therefore to have at least a few persistent friends who never take "No" for an answer or who you just end up feeling sorry for trying so hard all the time that you finally cave in to their requests for your presence. The Banker and The Accountable One on Island Behind God's Back were those types of friends. An increasingly reclusive expat wife with a husband who works long hours (though who is himself the consummate extrovert) needs to have some good people with home grown values, good hearts and intentions, who can by fair or foully persistent means, get her ass out of the fricking house!

I hope I may have found one today- a partial housewife/partial freelance consultant who proposes to be my daily walking partner, which means ESC will have to leave the apt at the same time in the mornings! ARRRRRRRGGH!

P.S Don't get me wrong, I married a great man who provides for me and supports me in every way possible. This is not about him, its about me. He would have bought me a car prior to my arrival but I refused don't want us having car loans, especially on one (his) salary when the car would only be used for my jollification. Yes, I still have that mildly independent streak and having forced myself free from debt, I have no intention of heading back there for any reason other than to build equity in property aka mortgage. Plus the reason why things are rough right now is that relocation is extremely expensive business made worse when not subsidized my a company and finally, we just got married- which is costly even if there is no extravagance.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cooking Indonesian Dry Beef Curry (Rendang Pandang)

... Will let you know how this turns out.

It's a dish where you reduce the sauce so much that it just sticks to the meat (think BBQ sauce on ribs)... in a very spicy coconut dark curry kind of way.

I am very excited!!!

I have already started to defrost the beef that I seasoned over a week ago. I will cook basmati rice on the side. I may add some thyme to the rice because beef and thyme go well together. I wish I had Jasmine rice because I quite like it as a side dish to beef. I am going to experiment with a smashed potato with carrot trash left over from juicing carrots. Will also let you know about that one.

I am using a regular cut (boneless shank stew) non-expensive, originally bought for soup but decided on this instead.

BTW, I think I will follow Cloudclutter's recipe idea and do a one pot with sausage, rice and beer next month when we go shopping for a few bottles of alcohol ( a huge production under these Muslim restrictions).

Since ESC is working straight without days off for 2 weeks straight (15-16 hr days) I have increased the frequency of my cooking. In fact, I am the only one cooking these days... from breakfast burritos to exotic Jamaican, Indian, Chinese and Indonesian dinners.

Anyway, it's just one more reason for him to get his diminishing butt out of the kitchen asap at night and hurry on home to wifey!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Daddy's One Daughter

I have been thinking about my father a lot today. Well.. it has been happening progressively over the past few years. But the strangest thing happened tonight. I was in church for a concert and I found myself crying during the performance of the children's choir. Yes they sounded like angels and yes the whole congregation was touched... but that was not it. I was crying because I remembered myself as a little girl in the choir and the fact that my Daddy was always in the audience. My Daddy isn't one for mush. His love language is the active kind. I can hardly squeeze out "hmmf hmmf love you too bye" at the end of our conversations. But you know what? My Daddy calls.

to be continued...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back on the green juice regimen

Yes, ESC bought me a juice extractor, an boy have I been putting it to use!

This morning:
Romaine Lettuce
String Beans

Romaine Lettuce
Bean Sprouts

I have been adding ginger to every juice to give it a kick. Ginger has so many great properties... digestive, autoimmune, respiratory, metabolic.

I used to take Imelda's lead and an apple or a pear for a little sweetness from the intense chlorophyll but now I am forced to keep it simple. ESC doesn't like spicy like me and often says "whoa the ginger strong" but that is a good thing. He certainly wont fall asleep on the staff buss on the way to work!

I dont give him any tea in the mornings when I give him the juices because I don't want to "cook" the juice before it gets absorbed into his blood stream. I make him wait before having his green tea regimen (another of the improvements to his daily dietary intake). He is now on green tea instead of coffee to fuel his very long and tedious days (coffee gives him a crash).

I feel better since I have started juicing. Though I am having lots of weird dreams. And why on earth must they all involve babies?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The wonders of married life

I know I haven't been post ing as much as I have been used to. But bear with me. Things change... and I guess I have just had to change with them.

I have also been busy trying to find a J-O-B since pretty much all that I had saved for my relocation has pretty much been used up in related expenses and unforeseen miscellaneous charges, yadda yadda yadda. ESC and I have been doing a really good job of keeping a tight grip on the finances and stuff, but being on one salary kind of limits us from the extraordinary luxuries. Having said that though, we are eating well and using the opportunity to really throw-down in the kitchen ourselves. We have surprised ourselves and each other with the amazing results we have had just making do with what we have. So we are very grateful for the fact that we are not hungry. The extras are trappings of comfort that are just not necessities. Plus you know what is the best part? We REALLY dig each other's company ,so spending time alone together at home is just as cool as going out anyway. It's not like we are dying to get rid of each other- yet :)

We went on the train for the first time together on Sat, for a meeting of the planning committee for a function in Dec. It was a cool experience. Fully automated without a back-up human operator. Plus pretty cheap. The only thing is that we have to take a cab to and from the train station. I need to figure out the bus system because even though he has been here fro 4 years, ESC has only gone on public transportation once and it must have been like for one or two stops. That will open me up to getting around more because cab fares are untenable (which is why I spend so much time in our little suburb).

I would like to see more of Dubai.. and will get around to it eventually. And a second CONSISTENT income means that we could afford a little travel and to save up for future expenses like further relocation and children, yadda yadda. Dubai is a great launching pad to the rest of the Eastern hemisphere and it would be lovely to be privileged to take advantage of our location. But privilege is the operative word.

I am actually really enjoying taking care of ESC and the finer comforts of having a man who will give me foot and body massages with request among many other actions which indicate his delight in cherishing me.

Anyway... I going to go cook lunch/dinner now. A one pot chicken, rice and green peas meal with ripened plantains on the side. It's my recipe... and according to my hungry belly little brothers from years ago, it is the boss!!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Here endeth this day...

Nostalgia aside, I have had a very productive 14 hour day. Give thanks for both the good news and the bad. Now it's time to switch off the computer, play some music and engage in domestic bliss prior to the start of a rare three-day weekend and a packed social calendar with hubby.

We have a one year-old birthday party, church, and dinner guests to host. We have already begun getting invitations from other married couples.

My prayers are with you my loving Uncle. May God grant you peace.

Until next time,
A gone.

From a little cottage in negril

Right about now, I am remembering how nice it was to be 19 and in Negril during college breaks over a two year period (other than spring)... When I ate conch stew, lobster and grilled fish, tanned topless, went out to the caves and even found myself in jail.

It was then that I really started developing my art, moving from teen presenter/photographer while I struggled to find my own creative voice. My photography was better than my writing and my sense of humour...hmmmn. I decided that I would write a novel. I titled it "Curried Muffin." It was then that "Sheer Almshouse" came into being... the militant, irreverent expression of a female Jamaican teen on the web (not very many those days).

You haven't lived if you haven't been so high you really thought you could fly, have a boat run out of gas with in the open ocean in the middle of a thunderstorm with a drunk pilot and find yourself in jail... all in the same weekend.

Thank heavens for "journeying" mercies!

Here is the perfect soundtrack by one big rahtid hit wonder, Tyrone Taylor...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Honeymoon done!

So dear heart, after nearly three weeks of marriage (feels more like 2 months), I am back on the scene.

It was a good thing to have had my energies concentrated where they should be during my hiatus. Why? Because what they say is true... this marriage thing is serious business!

I feel like for all intents and purposes of this blog, I am still somewhat of a single TwentySomething, just now in a more serious lifelong partnership... after all, I do not plan to lose my connection with single people and plus who said I would lose my individuality and identity?

The run down:

-We chose our rings together at the Old Gold Souk in Deira. Without even realising it, he chose mine and I chose his. We went for simple bands. His white gold and mine- yellow, white and red. Why? Cuz me come first, second and third!!! Imelda and I both independently told him that we should celebrate the simplicity of this first wedding every anniversary with a ring appropriate to pocket.

-He actually wears his ring all the time now... and delights in how it feels on his hand. He is obviously happy to be married- in more ways than one. As am I.

- We honeymooned in our studio. Three days. He had to go back to work to prepare tasting sessions and modifications for a new menu in his restaurant. His immediate boss resigned a couple of months ago and he has had to put in more hours to get the job done.

-We had a six course lunch on our wedding day in a fine dining restaurant in his hotel and went to KFC the next day for dinner. Yes we could have chosen some similarly cheap Arabic fast food joint, but the symbolism of dinner at the Colonel's is much more of a internationally understood nature. I have always thought of the charming the story that Rootical Flava told me once about a Jamaican couple who were not very well off financially but wealthy in love- they wanted to get married. Had no money for a wedding or even rings; they had the ceremony and went to KFC to celebrate. I guess my KFC juxtaposition to the 6 course fine dining meal is that we are together for better for worse, richer or poorer. And can I tell you? Fried chicken never tasted so good!

-We then went to a movie... a romantic one- God bless his heart- The Time Traveler's Wife.

-We kept on looking at our rings and asking each other "Did we really do it?" It was such a silly and cute and childlike enthusiasm that we shared that we were kind of like "Big people now, right? hehehehe"

-We ordered take out. I had thought we should have done touristy things before the wedding, but after everything, we just decided that the only sights we would be seeing were right before us. We stayed in. Cooked, drank champagne and then when that ran out went on to Vodka. I can vouch for him when he said he fell in love with me all over again after I cooked him Saltfish Rundown and Fried Dumplings to sweet perfection (bless Imelda for the dumpling refinement par excellence).

-We talked and talked and talked and talked and talked and talked and talked. Both in the literal and figurative sense. But seriously though, you wouldnt believe how much we spoke on our wedding night. Yes we consummated the marriage upon Imelda's swift instruction, but afterwards, we chatted like old friends about things you wouldn't believe!

-Not having family around was rough on us... but it made us focus on the fact that this relationship is just we and God and everybody else,.. has fundamental supporting roles, largely anchored in prayer and the blessings and the channeling of positive vibrations our way. Those who loved us were really there every step of the way lighting candles and singing sankeys and we felt the love and jubilation.

- I was going to cry when I was marching alone to the altar but then I saw how happy ESC was and thought... yes I was leaving my father and he was even able to be there to witness it, but I had a damn good man waiting for me at the altar. And he was 15 mins early to boot- a huge improvement over his father being 2 hours late for his parent's wedding!

-We experienced kindness from the most unexpected places and disappointment in those places that we thought we could depend on, but you know what? Such is life! We saw the hand of God working and weaving our little thatch roof of love over our heads so that we could be sheltered from the sun and the rain. It helped to reinforce the fact that our hopes are not based on man but on God from whence cometh our help. Everyone else is merely a vessel according to His design. All praises to Him for the provisions.

-We had blessings read by our families at the wedding ceremony and the lovely Anglican priest was obviously touched by the words of support, love and encouragement that our families had for us even though they were not physically present. It made us all realise that the church may be empty, but hearts were filled with love. Imelda wrote the one on behalf of my family and his middle brother wrote that from his.

- We had African congo drums, and the Reggae spiritual ballads of Buju Banton playing at points in the ceremony and the priest, who was once based in Nigeria for 10 years, was raising his hands and dancing and turning around in jollification. It was a sweet ceremony and you could feel the love. My only regret is that we didn't have it one video. Not to blow my own trumpet but it was a really lovely ceremony.

-Yes I was nervous. Yes I did let out a loud sigh right before I took ESC's arm at the altar. No I did not notice that he had on black socks with his outfit. As soon as I did (after the ceremony) I proceeded to ask him every so gently to remove them from his outfit that didn't call for socks. The one day that I wasn't around to dress the man!

- I was the frugal bride. I did my own hair, makeup, designed my gown, directed my wedding photo shoot and edited the photos. I selected yellow roses because of the significance of the friendship that we have maintained for nearly 15 years, which is the foundation of out marriage. All photo credits to Saleem Almas.

-ESC surprised me and arranged for a delectable chocolate wedding cake for us from his friend, who ran the restaurant that we dined for lunch because he couldn't let his wife not have a wedding cake because he knew fully well that her Ma is a master cake baker and decorator and no child of hers could have a wedding without a cake.

-Mother Hen was the first to call us after the ceremony ... with such joy and that she was almost singing when she told me "I was there! I was there! I dreamt I was there and me and your Aunty Thelma had on... and there were purple orchids...!" Funny enough, I did get a bouquet of purple orchids from a lovely Jamaican woman (who Imelda knows) the night before the wedding. The Spirit was in accord.

-Family was missed at the lunch table... we had no official reception so we are REALLY looking forward to the "Proper Jamaican Wedding & Reception" to follow next year.

- We have had to get back to the real world and deal with real world issues, but we have been making good headway in resolving our conflicts. We both strongly feel that we were created for each other. We both add significantly to each other's lives and challenge each other in ways that truly make us individually and collectively better for the wear.

- We pray and read the bible together, even in the middle of spats and huge disagreements and confrontations because we have to consult the Higher Power who is responsible for singular and plural.

- Yes, I can attest... sex is really better after you get married!

-We have agreed to go to marriage counseling to help to ease us into the transition of marriage and to reconcile small things before they become bigger things. The first year of marriage is the hardest and we are committed to doing everything we can to build a strong foundation from the get go. Often times, I feel that by the time many couples go into counseling, the marriage is already over because irreparable damage has already been done. As we say in Jamaica, "Prevention better than cure."

- We have married friends to spend time with and learn from (with seemingly happy unions) and this is a good thing. We also have two older married friends from church who have been at it longer and who have taken us up in mentorships of sort.

-We go to church together and even attending sermon two days after the wedding as part of our honeymoon.

I have seen that in so many ways, this is the relationship and marriage that I have prayed for all these years. It humbles me to know that I have been so supremely blessed. Yes there are challenges, and yes there are growing pains, but ultimately, this is a union so wonderfully blessed by God. Together we are truly stronger.

Return from computer crash siberia

Hard Drive: Crash
Memory: never crash but was badly in need of upgrade
Out of commission: over 2 weeks
What did I do in the interim: watch ESC's collection of DVDs, which I must say is pretty impressive; cook together; chat; sort through drama; fix visa issues; shag; read; designed a workplan
Why am I only writing in Q&A? Can I hobble to the mall to pick up some dinner, full mi belly and then come back and chat with you? Seriously, I promise you a nice long chat bout all there is in the space of time that mi married off and gone and only just now return.

Soon come back.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Doria Roberts - Perfect (Let's take a picture when everything is perfect)

The morning before the wedding

ESC is playing me love songs. His good underwear are washing. The one that holds my stomach in a little is drying. My overnight bag is almost fully packed. Two more guests have confirmed bringing the total numbers to 7. Seven is a good number.

We were up until 7 am. He came in at 4. We video chatted with Imelda and ran everything by her until we got her "in-charge" approval. Even practiced the kiss that is meant to preserve lipstick and not have him walking around looking like a pansy.

We held each other closer than ever before. We talked. He massaged me and moisturized my AC depleted dry skin. He massaged my feet. Both of us thought of that first foot massage four years and and where it has taken us. We kissed. We knew we made the right choice. We let go everything we had been holding back. We finally, completely really tuned in.

I am wearing a panty that says "Soon to be Mrs" on the back. Tomorrow this time, I will be wearing a much less conservative one that says "Bride" on the front.

He is gone to get us drinking water and a surprise for me. He hasn't been able to withhold surprises before. Just this one.

I am going to take a bath with Imelda's homemade kosher lemon grass soap. And wash mi foot in the tub (chisel down with pumice). He will massage me with olive oil to further moisturize my skin.

I will never forget this morning. We should have taken a picture. Just for us. Now, when everything is just- perfect.

P.S. Yesterday...

The florist at his hotel kept on smiling at him yesterday. Florists are privy to everybody's secrets. Well perhaps only those who say it with flowers. This is his second purchase their. Both have been for me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ten years ago in photographs

"From Whence Cometh My Help"

"University Student"



"1000 Words"

Photography by Peter Dean Rickards.

PS... The wonders of youth. I was 19 and fabulous. Just how much, I didn't know. Never mind that though. I know now.

Nina Simone- Here Comes the Sun

This kind of sums up how I feel about being here with ESC...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

When life gets sour

Life can be downright difficult sometimes but a so we know who in control, no so? From whence cometh your help? Give thanks even in sorrow farzin to say, no the same thing that sour you did one time sweet you? Joy and sorrow are sides of the same coin (paraphrasing Gibran).

Life is not sour for me right now, but ESC and I do have our patches of sucking salt through wooden spoon [thanks to Imelda for knowing every Jamaican proverb and idiom under the sun]. We have had our differences and confrontations but we have been working them through and getting closer and understanding each other as a result. A relationship is damn hard work. A good relationship is plenty hours of hard algebra and trigonometry homework. I don't like maths... but it is good to find a formula that works and stick to it.

Imelda and I have been chatting online about just how blessed we are in spite our humble means. That likkle story bout silver linings... a true.

Life is what you make it... thunderstorm or not.

I don't know bout you but from I likkle bit dem tell me that life isn't a bed a roses. Well I say... life is just that- a bed of roses...just watch out for the prickles. Somedays it pretty but sometime, everywhere you turn macka (prickle) juk (prick) you. Even in nature, thorns serve their purpose.

On Joy and Sorrow

Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater thar sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Note from a spinster

I used to hate that word. "Batchelor" conjures all things George Clooney and "Spinster"... my granny's miserable twin sister. "Batchelorette" may be politically correct but I am not certain that the British First Aid in English has made that the official synonym for "unmarried woman."

Then somewhere along the way...through great soul searching, I found my peace with the word, the term, the concept, the existence. I was an unmarried woman, no? A spinster, no less, no more.

I started off my 20s as most of us do questioning everything. God, religion, family, friendship, relationships, people, the opposite sex, the same sex, age, work, love, hope, life, peace, sanity, identity. I started off my 20s depressed.

I remember Azikiwe explaining to me at about 23 years old that my constant doodling of abstract faces and my counter-depressive practice of drawing faces with charcoal in a drawing pad was the revelation that I was questioning my identity. It was subconscious. But I had every right to be doing so.

I had some fundamental paradigm shifts in my last summer of being 19- the one that ushered in twenty. Being born in early August means that I spend two summers at every age. The ushering in...and the fading out.

It was a cathartic point. I made decisions that would forever disrupt my worldview and how I viewed myself in it. Therein lies the conflict. If I no longer knew who I was after 19 years, then who was I really?

That took me years to answer. Almost 10. And it wasn't smooth sailing.

There were some hits and plenty more misses. In the quest for finding out something of which you know the foggiest, there are often times more failures than successes. There were many lessons in that... chief of which was the one taught by the harrowing process itself- resilience. Anyone can fail. Everyone will fail. It is the process of starting over after failure that truly reveals character.

So there were many starts. I started many jobs. Many relationships. Many friendships. Many interests. Many philosophical outlooks. Many self-help projects. Yet, I continued to fail.

And then... as I developed a new language to name this new identity that I was discovering, I began to have a concept of who what where when why and why not.

Fire. Fascinating. Beautiful. Hot. Burns.

Talent. Embedded. Growth. Release.

Work. Love. Visible. Square-peg. Round-hole.

Love. Fascinating. Uplifting. Transforming. Hurts.

Grace. Undeserved. God. Granted. Revealed. Redemptive.

I have been thrashed about on love's floor and broken into pieces. Yet, like the phoenix from the ashes, I rise.

I rise, rose and continue to be risen, pressing on to greater glory higher than my own.

This is a gift...this spinster business... what else could nine years of finding yourself be?

So at the end of it all, on this the twilight of a new day in my journey, I salute the spinster in me, who has helped me to define me.

I walk away from this place whole and into a marriage whole. I am whole on my own. Even in my darkest hour. I am happy on my own. Even in my moments of utter despair. I find my own joy. It lies within when all beauties fade.

I have grown. Leaps and bounds. Ask anyone who truly knows me. But how? Because I have lived in every moment-good and bad and allowed them to take me places hitherto unreachable. In doing so, I discovered my biggest revelation of all time. Grace.

I give thanks.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

My last weekend as a bachelorette...

Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

Fish don't fry in the kitchen;
Beans don't burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin',
Just to get up that hill.
Now we're up in the big leagues,
Gettin' our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it's you and me baby,
There ain't nothin wrong with that.

Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Soloist

The Soloist is a brilliant film worthy of a second cinema viewing. I laughed. I cried. Joe Wright has done it again. Of course I stayed for the entire credit roll. ASIDE [There is an unexpected but brilliant treat for Jamaicans. ]

I had intended to write a full review here but somehow, I am quieted. That happens sometimes when I encounter something bigger than myself.

A baker is born!

I made my first batch of scones in the wee hours of this morning. Serious business. I went for cheddar scones. ESC approved. His approval never comes easily. Of course there are things to improve but I will work with Master Baker, Imelda on that. But the consistency and taste was right on!

All that is needed is a nice thick slice of bacon or carmelized ham and I am back home in her kitchen.

My kitchen is a hot mess, but hearts and stomachs are full.

Give thanks.

Getting out of my comfort zone

I see withdrawn patterns from Island Behind God's Back re-emerging and I am nipping it in the bud. I cannot afford to go back to that place mentally. So much so that instead of going back to bed after ESC leaves, I am drinking my green tea and making the damn bed and opening the drapes to let some light in.

ESC told me to do something exceptional today.

"Take the train."

Taking the train here is exceptional for a few reasons. The railway is above ground and provides an excellent tour of the city. The second, and more compelling reason is that it is the largest network of unmanned rail in the world. That's the part that is also a little daunting. But yes, I do need to get out more and go far beyond my usual exploit of our neighbourhood mall.

Dubai is not NYC so it means I have to do more and go further to see more.

They are lots of museums and galleries too. Restaurants are among the best in the world but those come with a hefty price tag.

I have books to read and there are free rides to several beach properties from his hotel chain right outside my door.

I have lots of writing to do... and plans to make for me... and I need to get that engine rolling.

Here's that saying again that my granny would tell me as a child.

"Do something before something do you."

There is certainly much more to life in the middle east that sitting at the computer everyday on facebook and allowing precious hours to tick by.
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